Are your projects missing their deadlines? Is IT not delivering what you need? Are your Business stakeholders not talking to you? In many organisations, the Business is seen as the Business and IT is seen as IT with both parties thinking they are the centre of their world. As a result, either minimal or no cooperation occurs between them especially when projects fail.
The relationship between Business and IT can be fraught with mistrust, confusion and frustration. Whether you are in the Business or part of IT, this post mentions 5 ways that you can repair and grow what was previously a flat, lifeless relationship.
- Trust – Know your stakeholders (whether it be business or IT) and develop personal relationships with each of them. This might be the 5 minutes of chatter before a meeting or the daily coffee run to the nearest cafe. Developing that personal relationship ensures that when you need to request information, they will be more than willing to help. Once the groundwork has been established, build on it with following 4 points.
- Communication – If you are the business, make time for IT when they need to understand your needs. If you are not available, allocate someone in your place who has excellent knowledge of the business processes that are occurring. If you are IT, engage the business in your discussion and let them convey their points and ideas. Both sides should encourage an open-door communication policy with so that anything can be asked.
- Understand the Business’ problem domain – Often, the Business SME has been in their position for a number of years amassing huge amounts of valuable knowledge and an IT business analyst usually has hours to absorb this. It’s common (and expected) that the business is good at their business, and IT is good at IT. So giving IT the time of day to ask questions and document processes of the Business is critical. By the same token, keeping concepts simple and not using technical IT jargon enables both parties to understand what is happening.
- Action – Do what you said you would do when you said you would. If you can’t, tell the other party. Often, IT projects have critical deadlines and resource dependancies. Having delays by the business in conveying information can push out pre-set milestones. IT may also encounter issues and problems unrelated to the Business’ project, if a deadline is going to be missed, then this should be communicated and rescheduled. Likewise, IT needs to realise that the Business will not be able to complete their actions during busy periods, so avoiding these times will greatly assist any actions that need to be taken. Both Business and IT should always set realistic and obtainable goals and deadlines.
- Partnership – IT is there to support not just the Business, but the organisation (arguably, the organisation is IT’s business). IT needs to work in partnership with the Business to understand business critical events and give assurance that when something breaks, it will be fixed as soon as possible. Projects and Programmes must align with the organisation’s business strategy and must achieve outcomes that benefit both parties.
When mending a damaged relationship, focussing on these 5 points are the first steps to starting a renewed conversation so both the Business and IT can happily co-exist.